Tomorrow night is a huge one in pop culture for me. The first part of the evening, I'll be at "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" at the Nokia Live in downtown LA. I'm taking my wife and Toshi, and based on everything we've been hearing from people who have already gone to see the show, it should be a hell of a night.
And as soon as it's over, we'll be speeding back to Northridge, with AICN's Quint and Kraken in tow, so we can watch the two-hour season premiere of "Lost." I'll be recapping the final season of the show, just as I did last year, and the only reason I haven't been babbling about it for the last few weeks is because I've been distracted by Sundance and other work that's been piled up. Good thing, too, because when I think about tomorrow night, I get unreasonably excited.
Here's the thing... I don't expect that every single question raised by the series over the past five seasons will be answered this year. We've got sixteen episodes to go. They're going to have to cover some serious ground just to cover the big things, and I'm fine with that. I don't think great fictions comes with every single thing tied up and gift-wrapped. I remember when I was interviewing Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott a few years ago, and we were discussing the construction of the "Pirates Of The Caribbean" franchise. Say what you will about those scripts, but one of the things we discussed really rang true for me. They talked about the theory of "distant mountains" when you're building a series, the idea that you should always leave yourself more room in your world than you explore. It leaves room for the viewer to insert themselves into the world, giving them things they can "solve" for themselves. As long as the creators of "Lost" don't give you every single little detail set in concrete, there's still room for interpretation and conversation, and that's just plain smart storytelling.
What I believe is that they'll answer the questions they absolutely have to answer. So before tomorrow night, let's ask ourselves what those questions are, and what we might expect to see.
That's complicated a bit by the absolute curtain of secrecy around this season. Not that I blame them. Last November, Damon Lindelof said, "I think even a single scene from the show would basically tip what it is we're doing this year, and what it is we're doing this year is different than what we've done in other years." Okay... that's intriguing. I certainly have my theories about this year's structure, based on the Comic-Con panel that I live-blogged last summer. And if my theories are right, then showing footage from this season would indeed tip their hand.
As I understand it, the beginning of the first episode is now online. I can't imagine why someone would break down now and watch it, knowing the premiere is about to air. There's also allegedly a bootleg of the episode that was shown at the Hawaii premiere this weekend, but again... why would anyone who's a fan of the show want to see a shaky video cam recording of a show that's this well-made when they have only a few more days to wait?
I'm guessing that Jack's plan to use the bomb to reset the timeline worked. What that means to the show moving forward, though, baffles me. And that's the most invigorating thing about the show. At this point, when a story I'm interested in hits the final act, I can pretty much predict what I'm going to see. In this case, everything's so up for grabs that I love the feeling of uncertainty. Even if Jack's plan worked, what does that mean? Are the flashbacks and flashforwards done for good now? Because that would be a radical shake-up. If we're going to only see linear storytelling for the most part in these last sixteen episodes, then that certainly gives them plenty of opportunity to just download giant swaths of mythology to us instead of dancing around things.
The one thing I'm certain of is that the Island is going to remain the central location of the show. Even if some things have been altered, there is no way they're just going to wipe the slate clean. It would negate everything we've seen and everything these characters have been through. It's a safe bet that even if the timeline was reset, Jacob and the Man in Black are still going to somehow draw these characters back into their orbit. Too much is resting on the outcome of their philosophical battle, established for the first time in last season's final episodes. Whoever they really are, most of the major pieces of the puzzle that we're given this year will stem from however they are handled, and that means we'll be seeing a lot of them.
Look, obviously we're going to learn what happened when Juliet detonated the bomb. We're going to learn who Adam and Eve (the skeletons from season one) are. We're going to learn about the origins of the Others and the nature of Richard Alpert. We're going to learn the true nature of the Smoke Monster. We're going to piece together the history of the Island. There are major character arcs that have to be concluded, like the fate of Jin and Sun or Bernard and Rose. We're going to see the return of Claire this year, but I'm not sure exactly what that means. And if the show's producers really wanted to blow our minds, they would have shot a few scenes back when Walt was still a kid that they could drop in this year, showing him at his original age even though we know time has moved on.
I know that Benjamin Linus will be a major player in the endgame, but I'm starting to suspect that Christian Shephard, Jack and Claire's father, will also end up being more important than we originally suspected. Oddly, I think John Locke will turn out to be less important to the end of the show than I once believed, because I think he's genuinely dead after the end of last season.
If you look at the Lostpedia, they have a comprehensive list of "unanswered questions," and I'm guessing the show will address only a percentage of these. Which ones and how many? For that, we'll have to tune in tomorrow. The thing of it is, if they totally botch this last season, it will go down as one of the great disappointments in TV history, and if they pull it off, it will go down as one of the great juggling acts. Either way, I'm fascinated, and I can't wait to watch it happen.
Please join me over at our TV recap blog, Monkeys as Critics, where I'll have a recap of the season premiere tomorrow night. I have a feeling that this, more than any other season, will give us plenty to discuss, and I'm going to want as many sounding boards as possible.
See you back here in about 24 hours.
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